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Australian Guitar's Fresh Frets: Vol. 3

(Image credit: Georgia Moloney)

GRENADE JUMPER

THEY ARE Sydney’s latest searing and summery answer to the pop-punk revival that’s rippling through the world like the blue hair dye through our curls. They’d be a shoo-in on a label like Hopeless for sure, but they also revel in a strain of originality the genre has been starving for.

THEY SOUND LIKE the secret USB of early b-sides that Pete Wentz left lying around after a trip to Frankie’s. It’s hard to sit still when you pop on one of the quartet’s three-minute bursts of kinetic calamity; they’re unforgivingly upbeat and brutally bouncy, Max Jacobson and Bianca Davino (the latter also belting those stunningly spry vocals) trading riffs with more body-jerking energy than a year’s supply of Red Bull could dole you.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE All Time Low, State Champs and the first couple of Fall Out Boy records – or, if you’re abiding by some weird personal rule where you can only listen to Australian pop-punk bands, then Between You & Me, Eat Your Heart Out and Stand Atlantic. Honestly, the three of them and Grenade Jumper would make for one heck of a tour lineup. Can someone at Destroy All Lines jump on that, please?

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT the new single “Heat Wave”, which is fittingly titled since it’s an absolute scorcher of a tune. It’s only the third track in their slowly blooming discography, yet it flaunts the kind of radiant spirit that most bands spend years trying to capture. Davino says the track is about “empowering yourself to understand the beauty in all aspects of life” and that the band “aimed to channel that drive and brightness in the instrumental.” We’ll consider both points as missions accomplished!

ISEKAI

(Image credit: Ellie Cooper)

THEY ARE a pair of Adelaidian post-punks on the cusp of a monolithic breakthrough with their anthemic eccentricity. They pair defiantly raw and brutally authentic quips with crisp, modern production. The end result is something straight out of a BLUNT Magazine mixtape circa 2003, buffed up with the sharpness of everything we’ve learned about music production since.

THEY SOUND LIKE the battered, barely functioning portable CD player you carried around with you everywhere in your early teens, zombified and sprinting into the 2020s with all of its nostalgic dorkiness in tow. The overly straightened bangs, the velcro wallets with keychain clips, the half-drunk cans of Monster Energy you thought you looked like such a badass walking around with at the skate park… Oh God, it’s all coming back! And yet, you secretly can’t resist it.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Brand New, Placebo, Garbage, and dusting off your PS1 every few years to revisit Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. Yes, in case you’re wondering, it does still hold up. 

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT their punchy and powerful debut single, “More Than Two”. Thematically, the track sees J (vocals/guitar) and Lucy (drums) explore the fluidity of gender, doing so by way of a soundscape that is, in its own way, impossible to classify. It’s heavy, yet soothing; bright, yet bold. The duo also have an EP on the way, which we’ve had a sneak peek of and can say with the utmost of confidence that it bloody rips.

TOGETHER AS ONE

(Image credit: Abbey Stevens)

THEY ARE the band that would give your grandparents a heart attack if they knew you were heading off to their gig – two of Sydney’s most talented death-metal debonairs, churning out gristly and guttural slithers of pure sonic warfare. Lead guitarist Mitch Davis reckons with a wall of sound so mercilessly massive it should come with its own warning label.

THEY SOUND LIKE the artistic personification of despair; they’re named after a Trivium song, but they make Matt Heafy and co. look like the Teletubbies with their blistering breakdowns and soul-ravaging riffs.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Machine Head, Sepultura and Code Orange. If you were the type of teen to have a morbid curiosity for things like the Faces Of Death series, there’s a good chance you have a soft spot for bands like Together As One, whose heaviness abides only by the bounds of their mixing software. Which, given how sharp their debut EP sounds in spite of its monstrous avalanche of gutturals and guitar, seems to be a pretty wide margin.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT that aforementioned debut EP, Crawl. It’s a decently weighty release, too, stuffing almost 40 minutes of mind‑melting metal into a neat six-track bundle. Closing track “Grand Deception” is a particular highlight, slow-burning and kaleidoscopic, and certainly worthy of closing out such a transcendent package of power.

ROGUE HALF

(Image credit: Rogue Half)

THEY ARE soon to be the champions of Australia’s ever-burgeoning melodicore scene – we’re calling it now. Staples of Adelaide’s underground, the foursome deal in powerful, polychromatic soundscapes that grab the listener by the ears and bodyslams them through a table lined thick with tenacious riffs.

THEY SOUND LIKE what would happen if you plugged a pair of headphones into a bucket full of fireworks.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Polaris, Underoath and The Beautiful Monument. They swerve like F1 drivers between mammoth singalong melodies and cataclysmic breakdowns, their tracks suited equally for the mosh pit and the car stereo. With metalcore progressively edging its way back into the spotlight, we can easily see Rogue Half dropping a major bombshell on the mainstream with their next record.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT their latest single “Bite My Tongue”, the chorus of which will undoubtedly find itself stuck in your head for weeks after your first dozen listens (which will definitely happen in quick succession, as it’s a dangerously moreish track). The band are hard at work on the follow-up to their 2018 Refraction album, and though that release is well worth a spin, their more recent material is leagues ahead.

GREAT GABLE

(Image credit: Liam Fawell)

THEY ARE a four-piece of loose and loveable indie-rockers from Perth, gearing up to make 2020 their bitch with one of the year’s biggest and most unforgettable debut albums.

THEY SOUND LIKE a coursing rush of serotonin right to the cerebral cortex. They’re not trying to be anything over-the-top of deliver some meticulous jewel of grandeur – they deal in fun, playful jams that tick all the right boxes for a summer arvo playlist; their playing is incredibly tight, but you’re not going to give yourself a migraine thinking too hard about it.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Lime Cordiale, The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys, and wishing you could go back in time to cut loose at the original Woodstock. Great Gable are all about the good vibes, and they’ve got plenty to share – pop them on en route to the beach or after a long day on the grind when you’re in need of a serious chillout sesh.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT the new single “All My Friends” – unless you’re a Triple J regular, in which case you’ve probably already heard it a couple hundred times. There’s a good reason it’s being hammered on the airwaves, though: the interplay between those prickly rhythm lines and the fuzzed‑out lead, those soul-warming vocals and the understated percussion – it’s a simple tune on the surface, but there’s so much going on that makes it great. 

HALLIE

(Image credit: Madeline Randall)

SHE IS a trailblazing Brisbanite whose voice booms with the force of a Spartan army, and whose fretting hands conjure up hooks so sharp they could slice through tungsten like butter. Hallie is also occasionally a three-piece band, of which Hallie is the frontwoman – makes sense, right?

SHE SOUNDS LIKE the perfect balance of sweetness and maturity, like dark chocolate in MP3 form.

YOU'LL DIG HER IF YOU LIKE Missy Higgins, Middle Kids and Julia Jacklin, but you’ve always wished their respective discographies were just a tad spicier.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT her latest jam “Sympathy”, which, in a resoundingly tight three-and‑a‑half minutes, puts Hallie’s full spate of dazzling and dynamic musicality on display. We start off slow and folky, the singer musing calmly over the buzzy, understated strums of a guitar sans effect. And then it kicks in, and we’re treated to a pummelling onslaught of biting electric guitars and thumping drums. One absolutely ripping guitar solo later, Hallie is belting out a vocal melody so strong we’re convinced she’s got lungs of steel. If the cut is any indication of what her debut album will sound like, our end-of-year list topper is pretty much sorted. There’s even a goddamn key change!

TEENAGE JOANS

(Image credit: Evie Wonder)

THEY ARE a two-piece pop‑rock powerhouse who call Adelaide home, but are sure to find themselves in high demand around the whole world soon enough. Simply put, Cahli Blakers (vocals/guitar) and Tahlia Borg (drums) are a match made in musical heaven.

THEY SOUND LIKE the kind of band that Fueled By Ramen would’ve killed a man to sign in the early‑to‑mid 2000s. Their tunes are bright and boomy and wickedly accessible, but sharper than a shard of the glass you’ll knock over from dancing too hard when one of their songs starts playing.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Tiny Moving Parts, Ruby Fields and Tigers Jaw. They fit in well with their classmates in the new wave of Australian pop‑rockers, too, so if you’ve found yourself vibing hard with WAAX or The Hard Aches as of late, Teenage Joans will make for a no-brainer addition to your daytime playlist. That being said, they have plenty of charm that’s entirely their own. 

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT their inhumanly catchy debut single “By The Way”, which clocks in just shy of three minutes but packs more than its fair share of crunchy riffs and cruisy melodies. They may only have other track to their name at the moment, but rest assured Teenage Joans are sitting on a torrent of gold just waiting to erupt. Once it’s legal to go outside again, make sure to catch one of the duo’s rambunctious live shows, where they bash out the bangers in abundance.

GEORGIA MARLEY

(Image credit: Sophie Hill)

SHE IS a singer-songwriter from Sydney with a penchant for pensive indie-pop jams that feel distinctly intimate, lowkey production and sparsely built soundscapes making each play feel like another personal performance from Marley herself. The simple, mostly electronic beats make for a rich bed of soil from which Marley’s warm, honeyed drawl and silvery fretting blossoms like a forest of exotic flora.

SHE SOUNDS LIKE that feeling when you flip your pillow over in the middle of the night and it’s just that little bit cool and extra comfy. 

YOU'LL DIG HER IF YOU LIKE Angie McMahon, John‑Allison Weiss and Tegan & Sara, and staying up all night flipping through old schoolbooks and reminiscing about your first crushes. Fiends of fat riffs need not apply, but if chill, pseudo‑folky crooners hit your vibe, Marley will hand-deliver you the goods.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT her emphatically fluorescent debut album Yearning, which showcases ten dizzying and delightful slivers of Marley’s heart á la prickly acoustic guitars and minimalistic pop beats. Equal parts moving and melancholic, the LP demands your undivided attention as its charismatically alluring (and often crushingly relatable) stories unfurl.